Podcast: Graham Nash’s Inventive Approach to Art

Former museum director Brent Glass, Graham Nash, Steve Boutler, curator Shannon Perich and Mac Holbert pose with the IRIS printer in 2005 at the National Museum of American History.

One of the most exciting aspects of working at a Smithsonian museum is the chance to meet and work with some extremely interesting people. This could be a curator who oversees and studies a unique collection, a visiting lecturer regarded as the top of their field, or even the occasional two-time Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer–no big deal. I recently had the opportunity to interview Graham Nash over the phone for the Lemelson Center’s Inventive Voices podcast series. Mr. Nash discussed his role in the development of digital photographic printing and the connections between the inventive process and creating art such as music and photography.

Now, to be completely clear, I’m probably much younger than Mr. Nash’s primary audience (CSN’s album Daylight Again was released in the same month that I was born). That doesn’t mean I didn’t grow up listening to his music though, as I like to think my parents had excellent taste in what was played around the house and in the car. Having the chance to interview a musical legend was a thrill in itself, but from a work standpoint, hearing him talk about the similarities between tinkering with a machine to make it do what he wanted and the act of songwriting was a total hit. Have a listen to the latest episode in our Inventive Voices series, and see if you don’t find some artistic or inventive inspiration from Graham Nash’s story.

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Video Podcast: Inventing Early Photography

“…soon the plate takes on a clouded appearance, and then gradually it clears and like a thing of life, stands forth the image in all the boldness that art and science can combine to give.”

“No one writes like that anymore.”

Indeed, the flowery prose of S.D. Humphrey’s 1858 American Handbook of the Daguerreotype isn’t seen much these days. Finding a daguerreotypist may prove just as difficult. This past April, Mike Robinson from Toronto’s Ryerson University visited the Museum of American History’s photographic collection. Taking a break from his research in the collection, Mike demonstrated his contemporary process for preparing light-sensitive plates and then actually using them in creating a daguerreotype portrait.

The most recent episode of the Lemelson Center’s Inventive Voices podcast series also features Museum of American History curator Shannon Perich discussing the combination of forces that led to advancements and innovations in the field of early photography. Be sure to check out the entire Inventive Voices podcast series on our website for more audio and video interviews!